Posts tagged with "antifa"

Justice Department says Trump’s talk of reinstatment could fuel more violence from his supporters

July 12, 2021

The Justice Department is warning that former President Donald Donald Trump’s delusional claims that he’ll be reinstated to the White House could fuel more political violence from his supporters, CNN reports.

Trump and some of his allies on the right-wing fringe have pushed what CNN characterizes as “the ridiculous theory” that he could be reinstated as president in August. There is no legal or constitutional mechanism for that to happen, and Trump’s claims of a “stolen” 2020 election have been fully debunked.

Federal prosecutors brought up Trump’s rhetoric this week in one of the US Capitol riot cases.

The rioter, Marine Corps veteran Alex Harkrider, asked a judge to discontinue his GPS tracking and remove his ankle monitor. The Justice Department opposes this request, saying Trump’s rhetoric could inspire Harkrider to become violent in the future. Harkrider has pleaded not guilty.

“Former President Trump continues to make false claims about the election, insinuate that he may be reinstalled in the near future as President without another election, and minimize the violent attack on the Capitol,” prosecutors wrote in the filing. “Television networks continue to carry and report on those claims, with some actually giving credence to the false reporting.”

Prosecutors continued, linking Trump’s rhetoric to the Capitol rioter’s case: “The defendant in this case is not a good candidate to be out in the community without electronic monitoring to ensure the safety of the community and the safety of democracy in the current environment.”

Indeed, according to CNN, this isn’t the first time Trump’s post-presidency lying about the 2020 election has become an issue for some of his ardent supporters who were charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Earlier this spring, federal judges and prosecutors cited Trump’s rhetoric during detention hearings for some of the Capitol rioters. Judges and prosecutors alike were concerned that Trump’s words could once again incite political violence. Trump’s language made it more difficult for some of his supporters to argue that they could safely be released from jail before trial.

In the Harkrider case, prosecutors say he tried to “obstruct the historically peaceful transition of power and overthrow the government” on January 6. He brought a tomahawk ax to the Capitol that day—his lawyers claimed it was only for self-protection from Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

He asked the judge to remove his GPS tracking. His lawyer says he’s paying a monthly fee of $110 for the monitoring, which is difficult because he “lives on a small pension from the Government, which he receives for his total disability” from his military service. He was a lance corporal in the Marines and served in Iraq and Afghanistan before exiting the military in 2012.

“This is a financial, emotional and physical hardship for Mr. Harkrider,” his lawyer wrote.

As of Friday morning, federal Judge Thomas Hogan hasn’t issued a decision about the GPS monitoring. He released Harkrider from jail in April after he spent three months behind bars.

Research contact: @CNN

Reuters: Proud Boys leader was ‘prolific’ informer for law enforcement

January 28, 2021

Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement—repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012, according to a former prosecutor and a transcript of a 2014 federal court proceeding obtained by Reuters.

Founded in 2016, the Proud Boys is known as a far-right, neo-fascist, and male-only political organization that promotes and engages in violence in the United States and Canada. Miami-based Tarrio, 36, is a high-profile figure who has organized the right-wing Proud Boys since 2018 in their confrontations with those they believe to be Antifa, short for “anti-fascism,” an amorphous and often violent leftist movement.

The records uncovered by Reuters are startling because they show that a leader of a far-right group now under intense scrutiny by law enforcement was previously an active collaborator with criminal investigators.

In the 2014 Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, an FBI agent, and Tarrio’s own lawyer described his undercover work and said he had helped authorities prosecute more than a dozen people in various cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling.

Tarrio, in an interview with Reuters Tuesday, denied working undercover or cooperating in cases against others. “I don’t know any of this,” he said, when asked about the transcript. “I don’t recall any of this.”

Law-enforcement officials and the court transcript contradict Tarrio’s denial. In a statement to Reuters, the former federal prosecutor in Tarrio’s case, Vanessa Singh Johannes, confirmed that “he cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes.”

That didn’t stop police from arresting Tarrio when he arrived in Washington, D.C., in early January, two days before the Capitol Hill riot—in which, Reuters says, the Proud Boys were involved on January 6. He was charged with possessing two high-capacity rifle magazines, and burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a December demonstration by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The D.C. Superior Court ordered him to leave the city pending a court date in June.

Indeed, although Tarrio did not take part in the Capitol insurrection, at least five Proud Boys members have been charged in the riot. The FBI previously said Tarrio’s earlier arrest was an effort to preempt the events of January 6.

What’s  more, the news outlet says, in  November and December, Tarrio led the Proud Boys through the streets of D.C. after Trump’s loss. Video shows him on December 11 with a bullhorn in front of a large crowd. “To the parasites both in Congress, and in that stolen White House,” he said. “You want a war, you got one!” The crowd roared. The next day Tarrio burned the BLM banner.

Former prosecutor Johannes said she was surprised that the defendant she prosecuted for fraud is now a key player in the violent movement that sought to halt the certification of President Joe Biden.

“I knew that he was a fraudster— but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist,” she said.

Research contact: @Reuters

Trump allies squirm as they spin Proud Boys remarks he made at presidential debate

October 1, 2020

White House and GOP campaign aides struggled on Wednesday morning, September 30, as they attempted to clean up Donald Trump’s comments made a night earlier at the first presidential debate. Going head-to-head with Democrat Joe Biden, the POTUS declined to explicitly condemn (even at Biden’s urging) white supremacy; instead directing the far-right hate group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” The Hill reports.

Multiple Trump surrogates faced questions about the remarks during cable news hits, where they downplayed his calls for the group to “stand by” and pointed to the president’s past denunciations of white supremacists.

“I don’t think that there’s anything to clarify,” White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said on Fox News.

“He’s told them to stand back. This president has surged federal resources when violent crime warrants it in cities. He’s leading. He doesn’t need any sort of vigilantism,” she continued. “That’s never what we’ve called for. What we’ve called for is Democrat mayors and Democrat governors to call up the resources we’re prepared to make available.”

Pressed on if Trump missed an opportunity to condemn white supremacy, Farah noted that the president said “sure” when asked at the outset whether he would tell white supremacists to “stand down.”

“What the president’s referring to there is when we see unrest in our streets and private citizens try to defend themselves or their businesses, that’s a right that they have,” she added.

Hogan Gidley, the national press secretary for the Trump campaign, was more forceful, The Hill noted—both in his own condemnation of the Proud Boys and his interpretation of the president’s words.

“He wants them to get out of the way. He wants them to not do the things they say they want to do,” Gidley commented.”This is a reprehensible group.”

Multiple Trump allies have argued that Trump has on multiple occasions condemned white supremacist groups. The president has in fact done so, including in the aftermath of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, last year, but he has typically only denounced them after being repeatedly coaxed to do so.

On the debate stage on Tuesday night, however, Trump stopped short, The Hill said..

Moderator Chris Wallace asked if Trump was willing to condemn “white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down.”

Trump responded that he would be willing to, but when Wallace and Democratic nominee Joe Biden urged him to actually do it, the president asked for a name of a group to condemn.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said after Biden named the far-right group. “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”

The group celebrated Trump’s comments. One social media account affiliated with the self-described “white chauvinist” organization added Trump’s comments to the Proud Boys logo.

The group’s Telegram account took Trump’s remarks as an order. “Standing down and standing by sir,” the account wrote.

A prominent Proud Boy posted on conservative Twitter-alternative Parler that “Trump basically said to go f— them up! this makes me so happy.”

“President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA… well sir! we’re ready!!” the organizer added.

Founded by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes in the midst of the 2016 election, the Proud Boys are known for their white nationalist pandering, blatant anti-Muslim rhetoric and close ties with more publicly violent extremists.

The male-only group, named after a song from the Aladdin musical, gained national prominence for its involvement in the 2016 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It has staged multiple counter-rallies aimed at disrupting the anti-police brutality protests that have swept the country since the police killing of George Floyd in May.

According to The Hill, “Trump’s invocation of “antifa” to dodge condemning white supremacists fits into a pattern of the president trying to equivocate right- and left-wing violence. Antifa, short for anti-facist, refers to a loose collection of primarily far-left activists. FBI Director Christopher Wray in a hearing earlier this month pointed out that the term refers to an ideology, not an organization.”

Indeed, the president’s reluctance to unequivocally condemn white supremacists on the debate stage exasperated some of his allies on Wednesday.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R) called it a “huge gaffe,” while Fox News host Brian Kilmeade lamented that Trump whiffed on “the biggest layup in the history of debates” by failing to condemn white supremacy.

GOP Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina) the lone Black Republican in the Senate, said the president should “correct” his comments.

“I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak,” Scott said.

Research contact: @thehill